Workers' Compensation Settlements
Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement and medical care benefits to workers who are injured on the job. Most of the time, these benefits are provided on a week-by-week basis until the injured worker is physically capable of returning to work. But most states also allow workers’ comp cases to end in a settlement. This option is more common for permanent disability claims.
Accepting a workers’ compensation settlement in place of ongoing weekly benefits is a big decision. Once you accept a settlement, you may not be able to renegotiate your benefits, so you need to make sure the settlement is in your best interest. Sometimes, insurance companies offer a settlement because they think it will save them money in the long run. The workers’ compensation lawyers at Morgan & Morgan can help with the settlement process and make sure you receive a fair amount.
Understand the Consequences of Settling
A workers’ compensation settlement doesn’t make sense in all cases. Minor injuries that only result in a few days or a couple of weeks of missed work time are unlikely to lead to a settlement. Typically, settlements are reserved for cases where the worker’s injuries are severe and likely to result in benefits over a long period of time. In these cases, the insurance company might propose a settlement. But a worker might also have a reason for wanting a settlement, such as to avoid protracted litigation over a disputed claim or to help them deal with mounting bills.
Settling a claim is not without risk. Once you accept a settlement, you can’t go back later and negotiate more if you need it. Depending on where you live, you might be able to receive additional medical benefits later on, but you probably won’t be eligible for weekly wage loss benefits ever again. In addition, not all states permit settlements at all stages of a workers’ compensation claim.
Morgan & Morgan serves clients nationwide and can answer questions about workers’ compensation settlements in your state.
Calculating What Your Settlement is Worth
A workers’ compensation settlement takes into account two types of compensation:
- Ongoing lost wages
- Ongoing medical bills
Ordinarily, if you receive workers’ comp, the insurance company pays for your medical care and provides weekly wage replacement benefits. A settlement will, therefore, need to take into account how much you would receive over the lifetime of the claim. Calculating this amount isn’t as easy as it might sound. First, you’ll need to estimate how long you’ll be out of work. You’ll also need to understand the types of future medical treatment your injuries require, including surgery, medication, assistance, and rehabilitation. If you accept a settlement, and your health worsens, the settlement amount may prove insufficient. That’s why it’s best to not accept a settlement until you reach maximum medical improvement.
Your state may allow you to negotiate your wage replacement and medical benefits separately. Regardless, you should never accept a settlement without first having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer evaluate the offer. Your legal fees can be calculated as part of a settlement.
The State Will Have to Approve The Settlement
In most states, either a workers’ comp judge or an official from the state workers’ compensation agency must approve a settlement to make it official. During an informal hearing, the judge or official reviews documentation and settlement details. One reason for the review process is to ensure that the settlement is in the claimant’s best interest. Settlements are generally approved, especially if the claimant hired a workers’ compensation attorney.
Settlement Questions? Morgan & Morgan Is Here for You
It can be difficult to turn down a large lump sum payment. But that payment may not be so large when you take into consideration everything it’s supposed to cover. Accepting an insurance company’s initial offer is usually not a good idea. And accepting an offer without first consulting with an attorney is never a good idea.
Morgan & Morgan has helped thousands and thousands of injured workers receive the money they’re actually owed—not just the amount the insurance company wants to pay. We handle workers’ comp cases on a contingency-fee-basis, so you won’t pay a dime in fees or expenses unless we win your case.
To speak with an attorney, fill out our free, no-obligation case review form.